Diablo 4's patch 1.1.1, which dropped this week, included a ton of welcome changes to its weakest classes and builds, but one wide-reaching change has started to improve the action RPG for everyone.
In the patch notes, it's only one line: "We are increasing monster density in Nightmare Dungeons and Helltides." The developers showed a visual comparison between an old and new Nightmare Dungeon on a recent Campfire Chat stream, but Diablo 4 has far too many dungeons and Helltide locations to be able to trust one example. We needed to wait for someone to do the math.
It turns out, the monster density increase might be the most important change in the patch, smoothing out the painful slog that is trying to climb past level 50. Once you reach World Tier 3 and above, Diablo 4 hits the brakes. Loot drops just as much as it did before, but that experience bar at the bottom of the screen moves slower than a line at the DMV.
Nightmare Dungeons and Helltides are the primary way to level up in Diablo 4's endgame and now they're overflowing with demons. Nightmare Dungeons have seen a roughly 50% increase in enemies, which results in a considerable boost in total XP gained for every run, and Helltides are no longer a waste of time if you're trying to find specific gear.
Diablo 4 content creator Raxxanterax spent the last few days running through Nightmare Dungeons to see how beneficial the changes are for leveling up. He calculated the time it took to blast through each dungeon and how much XP he gained to produce a tier list of the best Nightmare Dungeons to run for leveling up. His tests found Domhainne Tunnels is among the best Nightmare Dungeons for XP per hour.
But it's more than just XP that makes the density increase great. Blizzard has said Nightmare Dungeons should be a flat upgrade to normal dungeons in the endgame. They have tougher monsters with unique traits, like causing explosions on death, but they reward you with the rarest items in the game and help you level up your Paragon board Glyphs—which can be crucial to your build. The increased amount of enemies gives you a higher chance at random drops and nets you a chunk of XP before grabbing the completion reward.
The Diablo 4 player who soloed the beta world boss, Wudijo, found that Helltides specifically are much improved over the last patch. They can't rival Nightmare Dungeons in XP gains, but these randomized world events let you gather valuable materials for crafting and have chests that reward you with gear for a specific slot. No other open world event in Diablo 4 gives this much value and now it won't be a chore to squeeze them in between Nightmare Dungeons.
Blizzard is chipping away at the parts of Diablo 4 that made it drag compared to the previous games. The big increase to the mount of monsters to fight pairs nicely with Season 1's surprisingly powerful Malignant Gems. Now I just need a way to save my builds as presets and then Diablo 4's endgame won't feel like such a grind.